Kitchens are the heart of most homes. Over 2020, most of them will have seen more work than ever before. New Year 2021 is, therefore, the perfect opportunity to show them some love. What’s more, giving your kitchen a refresh can make it a more fun place for you to be. With that in mind, here are some easy and affordable ways to update your kitchen in 2021.
Give your kitchen a proper, top to bottom, wall to wall clean. That includes the insides of all cupboards and drawers as well as all appliances (large and small). The easiest way to work is generally top to bottom. That way you won’t get dirt falling down onto surfaces you’ve already cleaned.
When you empty cupboards and drawers, you may find it useful to take a photo of the contents. That can help with kitchen organization. You can also deal with anything which is obviously out of place, for example, just discard expired food. For the most part, however, you want to keep your focus on the cleaning and leave the organization for later.
Take your blinds off your kitchen window and give them a full clean. As you do so, check for any signs of mould. This can be an early warning that you have a condensation problem. If you have roller blinds, leave them to dry while you’re cleaning your window. When you put them back up, check if they’re completely dry. If not, leave them rolled down until they are.
If you can stand it, open your kitchen windows for a while. This will literally get fresh air into your kitchen. It will help to clear out any remaining smells and dry the air (after cleaning or cooking).
Get this right at the start of the year and you can make your life a whole lot simpler going forward. There are two keys to organizing your food stocks effectively. The first is to make sure that you put the right food in the right storage location. The second is to make sure that all your food stock is easily visible.
As a rule of thumb, you should store your food in the same kind of place as the retailer sold it before you bought it. This means that if it wasn’t in a fridge to start with, it probably doesn’t need to take up valuable fridge space when you bring it home. It may, however, need to go in a fridge when it’s opened. Check the label and see what it says.
Most fresh produce stores best in the dark. Dried and canned goods, by contrast, are generally fine in the open. In fact, you can even put dried goods into clear jars to make them functional decor. If necessary, invest in organization solutions to get the most from your cupboard space. For example, lazy Susans can make it easier to access items right at the back of cupboards.
Meal-planning can be a great way to save time, effort and money. It also helps to stop food waste. Commit to going through your food stocks regularly to identify food which is going out of date. Ideally, you want to check your fridge and fresh goods every day (at least every week). Check your freezer and pantry at least once a month (preferably every week).
Find recipes which allow you to use up those foods. You don’t even necessarily have to eat what you make right then. You may be able to cook the food while it’s fresh and then freeze it. This can be a good opportunity to try out new recipes. After all, if the alternative is the food going out of date, you really have nothing to lose.
The easy way to start this exercise is to go through the photos you took as part of your deep clean. See if there is anything which is obviously out of place and, if so, deal with it. Then look at what’s left and see if there are any items which have nothing to do with preparing food (or serving or eating it). If there are, try to move them on somewhere more appropriate.
Then look for items you don’t use. This includes duplicates (and multiples) of useful items. It may be fine to have spares but keep it within reason (and within what your space allows). If you really want to hold on to “extras” of any given item, consider moving them out of your kitchen.
Once you’ve worked out what you need to have in your kitchen, think about the best way to store it. As a rule of thumb, you want to avoid cluttering up your worktops. You can, however, use your walls and ceiling. Wire racks, pegboards, hooks, tension rods and ceiling racks are all affordable and can vastly increase your effective storage.
You can often update your kitchen decor for free just by moving items from other parts of your home. Anything which works in your bathroom is probably safe for use in your kitchen. Items from other rooms can also work in a kitchen, especially if you’re careful where you put them.
If you have a little bit of budget, then your options increase hugely. The key to making the most of limited funds is to think about “renter-friendly solutions”, even if you own your own home. For example, you may not be able to afford new worktops or splashbacks. You could, however, use contact paper and stick-on tiles to get the same look for less.
If you have a bit more budget, then you could look at updating the handles on your cabinets and drawers. Just be sure to think about the practicalities of installing them before you make any purchases. Unless you choose an exact, like-for-like, replacement of what you have already, you’re probably going to need to do some drilling. This is generally very easy but may not be for everyone.
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